Research shows more parents (and students) are using mobile devices before and during the annual back-to-school shopping pilgrimage. Smart brands are using mobile marketing in innovative ways to boost back-to-school sales.
According to Google, searches on back-to-school topics are on the rise, indicating more consumers are using search to inform shopping decisions. Search interest for “back to school” was up 48 percent last year; this year, search interest has increased another 12 percent, Google reports. Moreover, about half of all back-to-school searches so far this year have come from mobile devices, up from 40 percent a year ago.
The mobile usage doesn’t stop there. More than half of consumers will use a smartphone while shopping to get price comparisons or gather other product information.
For back-to-school retailers, mobile marketing offers a major advantage: personalization. Brands can deliver targeted content marketing campaigns based on the device a consumer uses or characteristics of the buyer herself.
For example, brands might use mobile to deliver discount-oriented messages to moms who tend to make shopping decisions based on price, Shalini Gupta, vice president of customer success at Iris Mobile, told eMarketer.
“If we are targeting moms, we know they’re driven to buy products based on sale prices—we’ve seen that behavior over time. We’ll serve an offer that incentivizes her to come back and redeem it. We know who she is, what she’s done in the past, and we can predicatively say this is what she is going to do in the future,” Gupta said.
On the other hand, students might receive style-oriented pitches, enticing them to check out a fall fashion lookbook, for example.
Social media is also important to back-to-school retailers. Back-to-school retailers are using social media on mobile to engage audiences, such as inviting users to send pictures via social of looks created with brand products, Gupta said.
Brands are also thinking creatively about content that leverages the unique capabilities of mobile. Target delivered with its Made For U College Styler tool that taps into a user’s Facebook and Instagram photos to select colors and styles based on the shopper’s personality. Consumers can then browse décor ideas in several categories, including “Earthy Explorer” or “Chic Geek.”
Retail giant Walmart used a simple tactic—price cuts—to lure back-to-school shoppers on mobile. Walmart’s Back to Class Cyber Days on its mobile app featured 30 percent more Rollbacks and hundreds of special buys timed to a historical surge in back-to-school shopping traffic. Walmart also promoted its Classrooms by Walmart digital tool to help parents access their child’s school supply list on mobile and encouraged customers to share the list on social media with a special hashtag to earn a concert from British boy band, The Vamps.
Mobile-oriented efforts like these have proved fruitful to the company in the past. Last year, Walmart’s mobile back-to-school campaign impacted more consumers per dollar than broadcast or cable TV, driving 14 percent of the increase in overall shopping intent, despite making up only 7 percent of the spend, Marketing Land reported.
Examples like these show that retailers who understand their customers and create relevant content to reach them via mobile marketing can reap major rewards. On the other hand, brands that fail to offer content that speaks to consumers via mobile may find themselves falling behind the pack.
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